I stopped by an unofficial Flyers practice yesterday and got to talk to a lot of the guys. One thing I can say is, a lot of the players seemed to have bulked up over the summer.
Especially Simon Gagne and Danny Briere. They both look to be a lot bigger and stronger in their shoulders and arms.
New addition Ossi Vaananen is a big boy, and he's got a mean streak on the ice, but off the ice, he's going to be the locker room comedian. He's hysterical. If he plays well, he'll be a favorite of the media because of his interview skills.
Met Glen Metropolit for the first time - seems like a genuinely good person, no wonder he was a Masterton nominee. He's not skating yet, still recovering from a foot injury, but he's close.
Derian Hatcher was doing some rehab and limping around Skate Zone. Mike Richards seems to understand what's going to be expected of him in this town, and has a much more mature approach to the season than last. Combine the breakout season skills he displayed last season witht the growth as a leader over the summer, and there are the makings of a fine, fine team captain.
Also chatted with Riley Cote about his continued training in mixed martial arts, John Stevens about his expectations for the team this coming season, and Kimmo Timonen about his new defensive mates (look for a lot more mobility).
If the Flyers can be smart defensively, they could have a lightning fast transition game this year that could be pretty exciting to watch.
Finally, Marty Biron was his usual joking self. It's definitely apparent that he's relishing his role here with this team and is going to be a team leader this season.
Check back later in the week for more on Cote and Briere as I will unfurl tidbits of an interview that I conducted with them.
Oh, and befor I forget, your friendly neighborhood beat writer is going to be a contributor for Sports Illustrated this season, so look for my stuff there from time-to-time writing about the Flyers (check their web site too.)